Friday Night Pizza!

Even though it is in the 90’s outside, I am heating my oven to 400 degrees to cook pizza! Crazy…I know, but I went to Whole Foods Market today and spotted fresh figs right when I walked in the door. I immediately thought about a delicious combo of fig, caramelized onion, bacon and blue cheese all on top of a pizza crust. Then I spent the next hour slowly walking up and down the aisles putting various things in my cart like goji berries, cacao nibs, and hemp seeds. Not at all sure what the heck I will do with these things, I just felt compelled to buy them. At some point during my shopping, I woke up from my super food daze and realized that I needed more pizza toppings. I knew there was no way that my kids were going to be as excited about my fig pizza as I was. For them (and the Hubs), I decided to go with a BBQ chicken pizza. Lucky for me, Whole Foods sells an organic rotisserie chicken!

So after my sticker shock at the check out line subsided, I headed home to start prepping for Friday Night Pizza! I found a great BBQ sauce that I mixed in with the cooked chicken. For the cheese on the BBQ Chicken Pizza I went with a smoked gouda and some mozzarella.

For the Fig Pizza I caramelized some thinly sliced onion in some olive oil and a little of the fat that I had left after crisping up some bacon. I threw in a dash of fig balsamic vinegar at the end to add some extra sweetness to them.

Both pizzas are quick and easy with store bought pre-baked pizza crusts.

Scallions and Cilantro top the BBQ chicken pizza.

I love the combo of zippy bbq sauce, chicken, red onions and smokey cheese. CPK seriously scored with this pizza!

Although I loved the BBQ Chicken combo…this fig pizza was OUTSTANDING!! I mean seriously…the mix of bacon (salty) and figs (sweet) with the blue cheese and caramelized onion is sooooo goooood!!

Fig, Bacon, and Caramelized Onion Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 1 store bought pizza crust
  • 2 cups of quartered mission figs (about 8 figs)
  • olive oil
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1 medium onion – thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Cook bacon in a frying pan until crisp, set aside to drain on paper towels. Once the bacon is cool, crumble it into small pieces. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat in the pan and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Saute the onion on low heat for about 15 minutes until caramelized. Add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to the pan and cook for a couple more minutes.

Top pizza crust with caramelized onion, crumbled bacon, quartered figs and blue cheese. Top with Parmesean, some salt and pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil (about a teaspoon). Bake for about 15 minutes or until crust has browned a bit and cheese is starting to melt. Add the fresh Thyme and serve.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 1 store bought pizza crust
  • 2 cups of cooked chicken breast
  • 1  1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 1 cup shredded smoked gouda
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • thinly sliced red onion
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup of sliced scallions
  • 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Mix the cooked chicken with 1 cup of the BBQ sauce and spread evenly onto pizza crust. Top with shredded cheese. Add onion slices on top of cheese and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Garnish with scallions and cilantro.

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Heirloom Tomato Pizza

Funny thing about growing tomatoes…you get a lot of them. Then…you gotta use them up! Even when I don’t feel like cooking dinner and I am thinking about picking up take-out from somewhere, I look at the pile of tomatoes in the kitchen and think…I gotta make something with those tomatoes. So for tonight, I figured a pizza would be quick and easy and good for using up a few tomatoes. And there is the fact that I can eat pizza any old time and be pretty darn happy. This dinner is so simple…you don’t even need a recipe!

The tomato that we have the most of right now is “Green Zebra”. Check these beauties out! I used a combo of these and the “Druzba” variety that we grew.

Plump, red, sweet & juicy “Druzba” heirloom tomatoes

I started with a pre-made crust (I wanted a super quick, effortless dinner!). Next I put a clove of garlic through my trusty garlic press and mixed it with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. I spread the garlicky-olive oil goodness on the crust, followed by some freshly chopped basil. I topped that with a little shredded mozzarella, prosciutto that I tore into pieces, my sliced heirloom tomatoes, a sprinkle of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, some dollops of creamy goat cheese, and a sprinkle of grated parmesan. Super simple and OH SO DELICIOUS!!

After it came out of the oven, I added a little more freshly torn basil on top. With a fairly large glass of wine, this was a perfect meal!


Kale and Caramelized Onion Pizza

I feel like it’s been a while since my last post. It’s been a little crazy around my house trying to wrap up the school year for both of my boys. Last week was preschool graduation for Finn…serious stuff! And this week is the last week that Max will be a second grader. I am really looking forward to summer and all of the good food that comes with it! I love salads and plan to post as many summer salad dinners as I can. I also can’t wait for our tomatoes to finish doing their thing in our garden so I can come up with some super yummy tomato recipes.

The Kale Pizza was last night’s dinner. I really wanted to post something since it had been over a week, but I really wasn’t in the mood to spend too much time in the kitchen. It all started with the left over meatballs that I had made the night before and needed to  use up. What do meatballs have to do with Kale Pizza you ask? Well…I figured I would make a meatball pizza to use up the meatballs but didn’t feel like it was very blog-worthy. Thus was born the Kale Pizza. Something a little different, and a little healthy too. I felt like it would justify the not-so-healthy meatball pizza that we were going to be devouring. BTW…my meatballs are on my top ten list of favorite things that I make (and my family’s) and I will post them some day for sure! They are my Sicilian mother-in-law’s recipe and really good.

This kale pizza is really simple to make. The only thing that required a little time was prepping the kale and sauteing the onions. I have seen bags of washed and trimmed kale at the market lately so you could go that route and save some time. Just make sure you get all the big pieces of the stems out because the are tough unless you cook them for a long time.

 

 

You will use what seems like a ton of kale for this, but it cooks down to a much smaller amount.

 

 

 

All those vitamins and health benefits of the kale MUST counteract the fact that it is layered over creamy ricotta cheese and topped with more cheese…right?

 

 

You will cook your onions until they go from this…

 

 

 

 

 

…to this. It takes about 20 minutes on low heat.

 

 

 

 

 

That big bowl of kale cooked down to this.

 

You will start by spreading some some ricotta on your pizza crust. Then you top it with your kale and onion mixture and some shredded cheese. I used an aged cheddar and parmesan mix that I found at Trader Joe’s. It was really good!

Kale and Caramelized Onion Pizza

Ingredients:

  • One store bought pizza crust (or make your own)
  • 2 small sweet onions, halved and sliced thin
  • olive oil for sauteing
  • 1 large bunch of kale, stems removed and torn into small pieces
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese (sharp white cheddar, Gruyere, or mozzarella would be good)

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees

Start by sauteing your onion slices in a large frying pan with a few turns of olive oil over medium low heat. You want to cook them until they are lightly browned and very soft – about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them and stir every so often to keep them from burning. Lower the heat if they are getting to0 brown. Once the onions are done, add the kale to the pan. You will need to do this a few handfuls at a time and add more as it cooks down. Season well with salt and pepper to taste and cook for about 10 minutes or until it is tender. If you happen to have a splash of dry white wine lying around, you could throw it in the pan and cook for a few minutes more (I always seem to have a splash of wine lying around 🙂 but if you don’t, skip it). Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes while you start assembling the pizza.

To assemble the pizza: Spread the ricotta evenly over the crust. Next layer the onion and kale mixture. Last you will add the shredded cheese. Bake the pizza directly on the oven rack (if it’s pre-baked) for about 10 to 15 minutes. When the cheese is all melted and the crust has browned a bit, you can turn on your broiler and let it brown on top for a minute or two. This gets the cheese nice and bubbly and crisps up a few pieces of the kale…kinda like a kale chips – so good! Let the pizza rest for a few minutes and serve.

Now I know that right about now you are wondering…”But what about that meatball pizza she mentioned earlier??”  Not to worry, I will tell you about the meatball pizza. I basically just threw my leftover meatballs and sauce on a pizza crust and covered it with shredded mozzarella cheese. It was really good!! I did slice the meatballs in thirds first because the were big. The leftover sauce made a perfect pizza sauce. I topped it with a little fresh chopped parsley.

Max actually liked the Kale pizza better than the meatball pizza…and he LOVES meatballs!

 

 


Pear, Pancetta, and Gorgonzola Pizza

I  hosted a jewelry party recently and decided to make some yummy gourmet pizzas for appetizers. This one was my favorite! I used a store bought pizza crust (found a good one at Albertson’s that is already baked and was a step up from a Boboli type crust). If you are a pizza crust maker or have good luck with rolling out dough (I am not…and I don’t) it would be even tastier!

"Cullinary Circle" Stone Fired Pizza Crust - ready to use!

The toppings took a little time to prepare, but they can all be done ahead and the pizza is quick and easy to make once you have done the prep work.

You will need one good ripe (but not too ripe) pear to make one pizza

Slice it into even thin (about 1/8 of an inch) slices

Soak your slices in a bowl of ice cold water that you have squeezed the juice of one whole lemon into. This will keep the pears crisp and help them retain their color without browning. This is a great tip for apples too! After a few minutes of soaking, dry them on paper towels and store them in a zip lock bag in the fridge until you need them.

Thinly slice 3 shallots. This will seem like a lot but they cook down as you caramelize them.

Brown 3 ounces of diced pancetta in an non stick pan until it has rendered most of it's fat and has crisped up.

In an stainless "All-Clad" type pan, saute the shallots in some of the fat from the pancetta combined with some olive oil. Take your time with this...you wan them to have a "melt in your mouth" texture when you are done.

My secret ingredient...fig jam that I add to the shallots to intensify their sweet taste.

Once all of your ingredients are cooked and prepped, you can lay them out and start assembling your pizza. If you want to do these steps ahead of time, just store the pears, cooked shallots, and pancetta in the fridge until you are ready for them.

Pear, Pancetta, and Gorgonzola Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 1 store bought or home-made pizza crust
  • 3 ounces diced Pancetta
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of fig jam
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped thyme
  • 1 pear, thinly sliced (I used a bartlett)
  • 4 ounces crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • handful of chopped toasted walnuts
  • fresh chopped italian parsley

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Saute the diced pancetta until it has rendered it’s fat and has crisped up, about 15 minutes. Drain on a plate with a paper towel and reserve 1 tablespoon of the fat. In another pan, saute the shallots in the reserved fat from the pancetta and a tablespoon of olive oil. Keep the heat on medium low and make sure they don’t burn and season them with salt and pepper. Saute them for about 20 minutes or until the are caramelized and very tender. Once they are done, add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to deglaze any bits that are stuck to the pan.  Add the fig jam to the pan and stir into the shallots until it has melted and is mixed in. The consistency of the shallots should be like a thick jam.

To assemble the pizza: Spread the sauteed shallots in an even layer on the crust. Sprinkle the pancetta over the top of the shallots. Sprinkle the fresh chopped thyme on top of the pancetta. Lay the pears on top so that they are very close together but not overlapping. Sprinkle the gorgonzola on last. If you use a pre-baked crust, bake the pizza right on the oven rack for about 15 minutes. Keep a close eye…it’s done when the top starts to brown a little.

Remove from the oven and garnish with the walnuts and parsley.